About this Recording
8.223522 - Miniatures (British Light Music)
English 

Miniatures

This compilation brings together a concert of outstanding light orchestral pieces by seventeen different composers. For music to achieve popularity without the persuasive influence of words is no mean achievement. An evocative title, or the association of the music with a story, imagined, or specific, as in a film, is a common lead-in to a work’s success, and no composer underrates the choice of one of his pieces as a signature-tune to a television or radio programme. But all such factors count for little if the music itself is not of the highest order, impeccably fashioned and orchestrated and - most important of all - it must have a good tune. Melody is the starting-point of any assessment of light music and the key factor in the choice of music for this British Light Music series. Some ‘hits’ seem to have come out of the blue, from composers whose main activities have been outside the field of light music, but for the most part they are by composers who specialised in this field. Their inclusion in this compilation invites the listener to explore more of their composer’s works, a pointer, perhaps, to their consideration for a full CD of their music. Most of the items can be said to have chosen themselves by their success. Also selected for this compilation are one or two pieces not yet well-known but with a similar potential to become all-time favourites.

1) Vanity Fair - Anthony Collins (1893-1963)
Anthony Collins studied violin and composition at the Royal College of Music, London, from 1920, and began his career as an orchestral player. From 1926 he was for ten years principal viola with the London Symphony Orchestra and the Covent Garden Orchestra. For the rest of his career his activities were fairly equally divided between conducting (opera to begin with, then symphonic work) and composition. He went to the United States in 1939, where his career in films began, writing film scores for RKO in Hollywood. He was also in demand as a conductor, in which role he was active in promoting interest in British music. This advocacy he continued with British orchestras when he returned to this country both during and after Second World War, with numerous concerts and fine recordings of Delius, Vaughan Williams and others. Besides his film scores Collins wrote two string symphonies, two violin concertos, four short operas, various choral and chamber works and songs, from time to time turning his hand also to light orchestral music. He made no secret of the fact that for all his success in other spheres, the writing of Vanity Fair was the achievement he most valued. The original “Vanity Fair” was a creation of John Bunyan in his The Pilgrim’s Progress, but it is most associated with William Thackeray’s famous novel of 1847 which was set during the Napoleonic Wars. To hear Anthony Collins’ Vanity Fair, with its gently dancing melody over a dainty string accompaniment, is to be transported immediately to the airs and graces of Regency London.

2) Polka Dots- Mark Lubbock (1898-1986)
Mark Lubbock had a particular affinity with light music. He was educated at Eton, then in Vienna, where his life-long love of operetta was nurtured. He joined the BBC as Light Music Conductor from 1933 to 1944 and continued as conductor in broadcasting and the theatre. He conducted Night in Venice and other West End shows, and compiled an important reference book, The Complete Book of Light Opera. Besides composing incidental music he wrote a number of light orchestral pieces of which Polka Dots became a regular favourite. The Polka is an energetic dance in two-time which first emerged in rural Bohemia around 1800 and soon became one of the most popular of all ballroom dances. Music for the polka is always characterised by certain standard rhythms, the most inviolate being the short-short-long / see-me-dance rhythm which motivates the left-right-left-op), right-left-right (hop), which are the simple steps of the dance. The concert polka by definition features those same rhythms even where too slow (Pizzicato Polka) or too fast (Thunder and Lightning Polka) for the ballroom. Fortunately for us Mark Lubbock keeps his feet on the ground, and his Polka Dots admirably expresses all the gaiety of this lively dance.

3) Dusk - Armstrong Gibbs (1889-1960)
The contribution Cecil Armstrong Gibbs made to the musical life of Britain was much greater than his place in the history books would suggest. He was born in Essex in affluent circumstances - remember brushing your teeth with Gibbs Dentifrice? - but from his earliest days he was determined to stand on his own feet as a musician. Immensely gifted, he was writing music from the age of five. His father insisted on a ‘proper’ education and after a Brighton prep school and Winchester he went to Cambridge in 1908. Here he took an honours degree in history, with a music degree to follow. Quite apart from his training in composition he found musical life in Cambridge rich and rewarding. Gibbs took up teaching, first at Copthorne School, East Grinstead, then in 1915 at his old school in Brighton, being considered unfit for military service. In  1919, having already been attracted to and set to music poems by Walter de Ia Mare, he asked that poet to write a play for the school, Crossings, to which Gibbs would write the music. The conductor was a young Adrian Boult who - as did Walter de Ia Mare - subsequently encouraged Gibbs to take up composition seriously. Gibbs studied at the Royal College of Music (1920-21) under Boult, Charles Wood and Vaughan Williams (whom he had already worked with at Cambridge). The break-through came with his first publications, and commissions to write incidental music for the theatre. As a teacher he was on the staff of the Royal College of Music in London from 1921 to 1939. Composition apart, Armstrong Gibbs’ most significant contribution to music was in his role as adjudicator at competitive music festivals. This much undervalued activity is teaching at its most constructive, of inestimable value to thousands of aspiring performers - choirs in particular - who are the lifeblood of a country’s music-making. Enthusiasm for music at grass-roots level is reflected in many of Armstrong Gibbs’ compositions: works for amateur orchestras and above all his vocal music, part-songs for choirs, songs and duets, many of them setting poems by de Ia Mare. Odysseus and other large scale choral works, three symphonies (two of which are available on the Marco Polo label), nine string quartets and other orchestral and chamber music, and much piano music testify to the diversity of Armstrong Gibbs’ output. Of his various light orchestral works one movement from his Fancy Dress Suite of 1935 was destined to achieve enormous popularity.
Conductor Jay Wilbur, whose orchestra backed the popular wartime radio show Hi Gang!, featuring Bebe Daniels and Ben Lyon, spotted the potential of Armstrong Gibbs’ Dusk and performed it regularly with his string orchestra at the Savoy Hotel, London. His arrangement of it for strings and harp was published in 1948 and became a standard favourite with the many light orchestras of the era and their public. A song version was published in 1949. As was normal at the time, Dusk was constantly arranged afresh to cater for the individual requirements of the numerous broadcasting combinations. This arrangement, made for the Ernest Tomlinson Light Orchestra in 1955, retains the rich string sound characteristic of the Wilbur arrangement, adds woodwind and horns and reinstates a passage from the waltz’s middle section omitted from the Wilbur version.

4) Carriage and Pair - Benjamin Frankel (1906-1973)                                                                                                                                                         
Born in London, Benjamin Frankel’s musical prowess was first realised as a performer on piano and violin. When, in his late teens, he was studying piano and composition at the Guildhall School of Music, London, he was also playing in night clubs as a jazz violinist. As a writer his first successes came as an orchestrator of West End musical comedies and revues, including Noel Coward’s Operette and various C.B. Cochran shows. Then, in 1934, came his first film score. He went on to become a supreme master in this field, with over a hundred films to his credit in a wide variety of styles, from the Curse of the Werewolf to The Importance of Being Earnest. Frankel’s recognition as a composer in his own right did not come until he was in his mid-forties, notably with the Violin Concerto of 1951, followed by an increasingly fluent output of chamber and orchestral music, including eight symphonies. Doubtless as a reaction to the immediacy of his film music Frankel’s concert music is deeply felt and took him into new fields idiomatically. As such it calls for dedicated listening. His music for the cinema, on the other hand, is used with such discretion, and so matches the mood and timing of the action as not to be heard consciously, simply enhancing the viewers’ enjoyment without their knowing why. Here and there, though, certain episodes lend themselves to theme-tunes emerging from the background to take on a more active role, presenting audio-visual cameos of great charm. A perfect example of this occurs in the 1950 film So long at the Fair, featuring Jean Simmons and Dirk Bogarde and set in Paris at the time of the Great Exhibition of 1889. Through the film it is appropriately brought into use several times in short journeys through that great city. From the music’s intermingling trotting’ textures a melody emerges which sings its way into our consciousness, becoming an instant hit. As is often the case, there is no complete version of the piece in the film itself. In this concert version Frankel brings the various motifs together, inviting us to take a three minute ride in that Carriage and Pair.

5) Coronation Scot - Vivian Ellis (born 1903)
Vivian Ellis is one of Britain’s great song-writers. With such a melodic gift backed by all the right attributes - harmonic resource, sense of design, ability to set a scene, and impeccable workmanship - it was natural that his output has also included a number of light orchestral compositions. Vivian Ellis was born in Hampstead, London, into a musical family. His grandmother was a pianist and composer, writing, amongst other things, a comic opera, and his mother was a fine violinist. He studied composition and piano at the Royal Academy of Music, the latter under Myra Hess. Recognising that his talents lay in ‘light’ rather than symphonic fields his first employment was as a reader and demonstrator for the London publisher Francis, Day and Hunter. That meant on the one hand assessing songs and piano pieces submitted for publication - up to two hundred a week - and then being available in the shop to demonstrate on the piano the current publications being promoted for sale, including those from across the Atlantic by Irving Berlin and others. That experience Ellis freely acknowledges to be the most crucial part of his training as a composer. His own skill as a song-writer was recognised by his late teens and there began a prolific output of songs and, other musical numbers for the stage, working with the great artists of the day, including Jack Hulbert, Francis Day and Sophie Tucker. He was only twenty when the great impresario C.B. Cochran invited him to write for his 1930 Revue and thus began a long and fruitful relationship. The constant turnover of new revues and musical comedies that characterised theatre in the pre-war era found Ellis in his element. His many songs included Come and Dance the Charleston, The Wind in the Willows, She’s My Lovely and Spread a Little Happiness. His first major success was Mr. Cinders (1929). In 1939 a new career beckoned and Vivian Ellis, together with his lifelong helpmeet, sister Hermione, were off to Hollywood. However, he had joined the Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve some years earlier. When it became clear to him that war was imminent he abandoned all thoughts of a Hollywood career and returned to England. He served in the Royal Navy throughout the war, reaching the rank of Lieutenant-Commander. After the war Ellis soon picked up the threads of his stage career and there followed three C.B. Cochran successes, Big Ben, Tough at the Top and, between those two, Ellis’s masterpiece: the light opera Bless the Bride. (Ma Belle Marguerite, This is my lovely day etc.) The book was written by author, poet and politician A.P. Herbert. It is worth noting that this work was staged after those two great American musicals Oklahoma and Annie Get Your Gun had taken London by storm, ran for just as long and was just as successful. In A.P. Herbert, both before the war and afterwards in Bless the Bride and The Water Gypsies Vivian Ellis found the ideal partner. Characteristic of all Vivian Ellis’s songs is the perfect harmony between words and music, each feeding the other in an elegant and witty way. One should not, however, overlook the mastery of Ellis’s earlier collaborators, particularly Desmond Carter, whose lyrics come over today as freshly as they ever did, nor indeed what an accomplished lyric-writer Vivian Ellis himself was, as seen in his musical play Half in Earnest (after Oscar Wilde) and songs like Uproarious Devon. A Director of the Performing Right Society from 1955, he has been its President since 1983. In 1985 the Vivian Ellis Prize was founded, financed by PRS, offering help and encouragement to young writers for the musical stage. From the later 1940s Ellis turned his hand increasingly to writing light orchestral music including the descriptive suites Happy Week-End and Holidays Abroad, but it is an earlier work that is presented here. The age of steam and all that goes with a journey by train has inspired many compositions. Coronation Scot was composed by Vivian Ellis on a journey from Paddington to Taunton in 1938. Cornish Riviera Express does not exactly trip off the tongue, hence the present title. Coronation Scot was recorded by the Queens Hall Light Orchestra under Sidney Torch and, in Ellis’s own words, “did nothing” until it was chosen as signature-tune for BBC Television’s Paul Temple thriller series written by Francis Durbridge. With its evocation of the train setting off, then settling down to the ‘rhythm of the rails”, over which comes a soaring melody that everyone can hum, Coronation Scot became a great favourite in its own right.

6 -7) Two Jamaican Pieces - Arthur Benjamin (1893-1960)                                                                                                                                                   
Arthur Benjamin has suffered - if that is the word - from having produced one piece of music, Jamaican Rumba, so successful as to tend to divert interest away from his substantial achievements elsewhere.  Benjamin was born in Sydney, but for most of his life was based in England. He studied piano and composition under Stanford at the Royal College of Music, London from 1911. After service in the 1914 - 18 Great War he returned to Australia as a teacher of piano at Sydney Conservatorium, then took a similar post at the Royal College of Music in London, having come back to England in 1921. As a composer Benjamin covered a wide span, from his more ‘serious’ works, his operas The Tale of Two Cities (1950) and Tartuffe (1960) by way of a Piano Concertino and other orchestral works as well as chamber music, songs and piano music, to a significant number of works in lighter vein. Benjamin’s work as examiner for the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music took him overseas, and his travels in Latin America bore fruit in a number of vocal and instrumental works, Caribbean influence being perhaps the most dominant. Two Jamaican Pieces (for small orchestra) was published in 1938 and complement each other so well it is a surprise they are not heard together more often. Jamaican Song, conjuring up the lazy days under the Caribbean sun provides the ideal contrast to the jaunty rhythms of the rumba to follow. Here we are captivated by two calypso-like melodies, first heard separately then played together. Jamaican Rumba, in its original form written for Joan and Valerie Trimble, a two-piano duo popular before, during and after the second world war, was so successful world-wide it earned for the composer an annual barrel of rum given by the Jamaican authorities in recognition of the fame he had brought to their island!

8) Tabarinage - Robert Docker (1919- 1992)
Robert Docker, London-born, was one of the most active and successful practitioners in the various fields of light music in his four-fold capacity as pianist, composer, arranger and conductor. He studied piano, viola and composition at the Royal Academy of Music, London, from 1937 to 1941. Then with Britain’s fortunes in Second World War at their lowest, volunteered for service in the army. Returning to civilian life Docker’s ability and versatility, coupled with a likeable personality, made him admirably suited to making a career as a free-lance musician. In any kind of broadcasting or recording session where a pianist was required, Bob could fill the bill. He was much in demand as a soloist too, with many broadcasts and guest appearances with various orchestras. A regular assignment was with the BBC Scottish Variety Orchestra in Glasgow, in any or all of the four capacities mentioned above. For twelve years he had a successful two-piano duo with Edward Rubach. Docker was in constant demand as an arranger and also did important work in that least reported area of arranging assisting major film composers to reach their deadlines. He was a brilliant improviser, a welcome performer at music clubs, where he would ask members to name various tunes, which he would weave together into a finished work. Coupled with his facility in conjuring up tunes of his own, Docker’s mastery of orchestration shows through in his many compositions. With his bubbling inventiveness composition came as a natural adjunct to his activities as a professional musician. He wrote much music for the mood-music libraries and numerous pieces in the light orchestral field. These often featured solo piano, including his popular Legend. Here we have his most successful short piece, his sparkling Tabarinage, or, in English, Buffoonery, a Londoner’s tongue-in- cheek look at that most characteristic of French dances, the Can-can.

9) Beau Brummel - Edward Elgar (1857-1934)
Elgar’s place among the great composers is unquestionable, as exemplified in his orchestral masterpieces the Enigma Variations, the Cello and Violin Concertos, two symphonies and in his large scale choral and orchestral works, which reached their pinnacle in The Dream of Gerontius. The hallmark of the great composer can be seen too in the sheer wealth and variety of his output: orchestral music of many different kinds - the Pomp and Circumstance Marches, the Overture Cockaigne and the symphonic study Falstaff; the tender Serenade for Strings; songs, part-songs, chamber music, piano and organ music. There is a unity in all this inventiveness by the distinctively personal way Elgar used basically the same musical language, whether for his most ‘serious’ utterances or his pieces in lighter vein, a concept increasingly hard for later composers to sustain. Elgar was born near Worcester in England’s West Midlands and it was in Worcester that his professional apprenticeship began. He had no formal music education apart from lessons on the Violin locally and, for a spell, in London. Recognising he was not to become a solo violinist Elgar nevertheless was for some years able to turn his ability to good account, playing the violin in various orchestras in Worcester, Birmingham and elsewhere until his late twenties. Free-lance from the age of sixteen he was for some years employed also as an organist. As a composer Elgar was virtually self-taught. If he needed a spur to his inventiveness being involved in music-making provided it. From those early years came his first light music successes, including Salut d’amour and Chanson de ma tin. Elgar’s character was a complex one, shaped by the tradesman’s-son-makes-good image of his upbringing which he was always needlessly sensitive about, the insecurities of trying to make ends meet as a free-lance musician and conviction which, quite without lustification, he held throughout his life, that his music was not being properly appreciated. He was, after all, knighted at forty-seven, four years before some of his greatest works were written, and regularly feted both here and abroad. The stabilizing force throughout these times was the good sense of his wife Alice, whom he had married in 1888. After her death in 1920 Elgar, now sixty-three, found composition to be a less important part of his life, though he continued to be in demand as a conductor of his own music. Elgar was enthusiastic in having his works recorded for that new invention, the gramophone, first acoustic then electrical. From his youngest days Elgar had shown much interest in music for the theatre. Music for a children’s play written in his early teens provided the themes for his later Nursery Suite. Later incidental music included that for The Starlight Express (1915). At the age of seventy he wrote incidental music for the play Beau Brummel. Here we present the Minuet from that production which, for all its simplicity, is unmistakeably Elgar.

10) Siciliano - Harry Dexter (1910 -1973)
Harry Dexter was born in Sheffield. Classically trained, he obtained a Bachelor of Music degree at Durham University. He had several substantial choral and orchestral works to his name. Whilst serving as an army Captain overseas in World War II he wrote a prize-winning symphony. After the war it was a not unfamiliar story of a musician from the north seeking to establish himself in London, tramping the streets, song plugging and arranging for various publishers. During the fifties his fortunes changed, with the increasing acceptance by the broadcasters of his tuneful light orchestral pieces. One of them, for instance, was the signature-tune for the original Maigret series for BBC Television. He joined the staff of the London music publisher, Francis, Day and Hunter, in charge of its light orchestral and mood- music output, offering valuable encouragement and opportunities to his fellow- composers in this field. In a parallel career, so to speak, Dexter was music critic for several important periodicals. In 1956 he founded the Light Music Society, with Eric Coates as its first President, and served as its Chairman for several years. The term Siciliano or Siciliana was first used to identify a certain type of song originating in Sicily, it is presumed - then applied to instrumental movements which adopted the same characteristic gently lilting triple rhythms. Instrumental Sicilianos were common in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries and subsequently, often describing scenes of a pastoral nature. The best examples of this are the Pastoral Symphonies in both Handel’s Messiah and Bach’s Christmas Oratorio. Adopt a slightly quicker, tripping-along variant of the same rhythm and the Siciliano becomes a dance, very popular in those times. It is as just such a dance that the Siciliano is portrayed in this, Harry Dexter’s best-known piece.

11) Scrub, brothers, scrub! - Ken Warner (1902-1988)              
Ken Warner, or, to give him his full-name, Onslow Boyden Waldo Warner, was born in Chiswick, London, into a musical family. His father, Harry Waldo Warner played viola in the London String Quartet and was a professor at the Guildhall School of Music, London. Onslow Warner was educated privately and at the Guildhall. From 1921 he played saxophone and violin, under the name Onslow Kent, in various dance- bands, including that of Peter Yorke. He played in such places as the Kit-Kat and the Café de Paris as well as abroad, and made many recordings. Under the name which he became universally known by, Ken Warner, he joined the BBC Light Orchestra in 1940, playing violin, clarinet and saxophone under Fred Hartley, and doing much arranging. He also played with, and arranged for, orchestras directed by famous violinists Max Jaffa, Peg Leopold and Tom Jenkins and was an early member of Michael Krein’s Saxophone Quartet. He stayed as a BBC employee until 1959, after which he retired to Cornwall to raise pigs. Arranging and composing was a constant part of Warner’s activities. He wrote much mood music and his several light pieces often featuring strings - made welcome additions to the repertoire. Articulating repeated notes by means of a back and forth movement of the bow across the string – ‘scrubbing’ is a good word - produces a unique effect, which has been much exploited since the early days of the violin. It is heard in the misterioso of the first entry of violins in Schubert’s Unfinished Symphony and to energise the mounting crescendos in Rossini’s Overture to The Italian Girl in Algiers. In this piece Ken Warner took that process to its ultimate when every note of his melody with the occasional let-up - is presented on the same double-articulation principle. When this goes on and on - and on- and on - it becomes very demanding on the players. One can readily conjure up the vision of some session in, say, 1941, with the enthusiastic composer countering his colleagues’ flagging energies by a clarion call of “Scrub, brothers, scrub!” The original version of the piece was for strings and piano only, to which wind and percussion were added for its reissue in 1945.

12) Cradle Song - Gordon Jacob (1895 - 1984)
Gordon Jacob was one of the most prolific of English composers, spanning many fields from ‘serious’ to ‘light’. Born in London and educated at Dulwich College, he was of the generation that was inevitably caught up in the 1914-18 Great War, in which he was wounded and taken prisoner. Rehabilitation eventually came when a grant enabled him to study at the Royal College of Music in London with Stanford, Howells and Boult as his teachers. As a teacher he soon established himself. He was on the staff of the Royal College of Music for forty years from 1926, teaching composition and orchestration. Amongst his books, Orchestral Technique (1931) has become a standard work. Jacob’ compositions include two symphonies, and other orchestral music, chamber music, songs and part-songs, music for band and film scores. Older listeners will recall Dr. Gordon Jacob’s witty arrangements for the popular radio series ITMA (It’s That Man Again) featuring the Liverpool comedian Tommy Handley. Characteristic of Jacob’s output is that he looked out for areas where there were gaps in the available repertoire. He wrote several concertos and solos, including those for less favoured instruments; trombone, bassoon, cor anglais and double bass. He would readily write for a new ensemble and welcomed a new challenge. He wrote a two-piano concerto (three hands) for Phyllis Sellick and the sadly handicapped Cyril Smith. When the prowess of the brilliant harmonica-player Tommy Reilly became known to him this inspired him to compose several most attractive pieces for that artist. In one of these, Cradle Song from his Suite of five Pieces for Harmonica, the solo part is ideally suited to the oboe. This lovely piece has been performed many times in that form, accompanied by strings, as it is on this CD.

13) Gavotte (Georgian Suite) - Arne-Tomlinson
Whatever else may be said about the ups and downs of British music through the centuries it has always been strong on melody. In Thomas Augustine Arne (1710 - 1778) we have one of the great melodists of all time. Arne was born in London and educated at Eton. His intended profession was law but music was his first love and he was composing from an early age. He surreptitiously acquired a spinet, damping the strings so he could practise it in his room undetected. He went to Oxford to hear a Handel oratorio and hear that great master play the organ. He regularly bluffed his way into the gallery of the Italian Opera. He made himself known to leading musicians of the day, notably Festing, with whom he studied privately. His participation in musical activities could hardly be kept secret and Ames father, now recognising his son’s gifts, encouraged a musical career for him. Arne was to become the most successful British composer of his day. Most of Arne’s large number of works were for the stage: operas including Artaxerxes and Thomas and Sally, several masques and a variety of music incidental to stage productions. Music for Shakespeare plays gave us well-known songs such as Where the Bee Sucks and Blow, Blow thou Winter Wind. Richard Wagner said that in the first eight notes of Rule, Britannia (from the masque Alfred) Thomas Arne summed up the British character. Arne wrote cantatas and oratorios and other vocal works, including lots of fun pieces, glees and catches. He was no less prolific in his instrumental music with some twelve ‘overtures’ (symphonies), six keyboard concertos and several sonatas. In 1756 Arne published VIII Sonatas of Lessons for Harpsichord. Each consisted of several tuneful movements including dances such as Almain and Jig. Eight of these pieces were arranged for orchestra by Ernest Tomlinson under the title Georgian Suite, from which we hear the delightfully playful Gavotte.

14) Portuguese Party - Gilbert VinIer (1909- 1969)
Gilbert Vinter was born in Lincoln and was a choirboy in the cathedral there. He joined the Lincolnshire Regiment whilst still a boy, subsequently studying bassoon and cello at the Royal Military School of Music, Kneller Hall. From 1927 he studied bassoon and composition at the Royal Academy of Music where he was subsequently appointed professor of bassoon. Vinter joined the Royal Air Force early in the Second World War, and became conductor of various bands. This gave him the opportunity to perform his own compositions and arrangements. From 1946 to 1955 he was employed by the BBC as a conductor, for most of these years with the BBC Midland Light Orchestra, then latterly the BBC Concert Orchestra. He was one of the foremost interpreters of light orchestral music, giving many first performances. After leaving the BBC he recognised the potential of the professional, civilian equivalent of the service bands, founding his International Concert Band. Gilbert Vinter was a prolific composer and arranger, with a particular flair for effective instrumental colouring. Among his many orchestral works were three ballets. He was fond of telling a story through his compositions such as The Legend of Cracow. He brought a new dynamic to scoring for the British Brass Band, with several impressive works, notably The Trumpets with soloists and chorus. A facet of Vinter’s work was his absorbing interest in music from all over the world. He wrote no fewer than twenty Fantasias on the indigenous melodies of different countries, including the rarely favoured ones like Bulgaria and Iceland. Thus it came naturally for some of Vinter’s compositions to reflect the idioms of particular countries, none more so than in the exuberant rhythms of this Portuguese Party.

15) Concert Waltz: The Haunted Ballroom - Geoffrey Toye (1889 - 1942)
Geoffrey Toye’s career centred round his activities as a conductor. Born in Winchester, he studied at the Royal College of Music in London. After serving in the first world war he returned to conducting, first with D’Oyly Carte Opera Company and subsequently at the Old Vic and Sadler’s Wells. Toye’s affinity with the theatre was to continue throughout his career, but he also was in demand as a conductor of symphonic music, giving the first performance of Vaughan Williams’ A London Symphony in 1919. He took on increasing administrative duties, including a spell as managing director of the Royal Opera House Company, and his composition and arranging often came as a spin-off to his conducting and administrative work. For the revival of the Gilbert and Sullivan Opera Ruddigore in 1921, for which he was responsible, he rewrote the overture (the original not being Sullivan’s own). Having returned to D’Oyley Carte Opera he adapted, produced and conducted the film version of The Mikado in 1939. He also wrote a radio operetta The Red Pen, with words by A.P. Herbert. There were also two ballets. The first was for Ninette de Valois’ Douanes. Then in 1935 came The Haunted Ballroom. To hear the waltz from that ballet is automatically to conjure up intangible mental images: the dimly-lit scene, the gradual lead-in to the seductive contours of the waltz, which becomes ever more compelling and dramatic as the ghostly figures take up their swirling figurations; then the gradual subsiding to a quiet rounding off the work as the vision fades into nothingness.

16) Puffin’ Billy - Edward White (1910-1994)
Teddy White, as he came to be known, was born in London and received no formal musical education other than some violin lessons when he was ten. Self-taught, he nevertheless made his impressive way into the music profession, first as a violinist in a trio, but most notably as a performer in dance bands from 1930 onwards, Adept also on saxophone and clarinet, he played in the Palais Band at Streatham Locarno, later with Lou Preager at Romano’s in the West End, and then with the Ambrose Octet. This was an ideal environment for Teddy to develop his skills as an arranger and composer. Then came the war, and White joined the Royal Air Force, soon put into service as a musician with the Felix King Group. He was also much involved in broadcasting from Bristol and playing and arranging in light entertainment shows whenever these did not conflict with his RAF duties, It was to Bristol that Teddy returned after the war, directing his own ballroom orchestra at the Grand Spa Hotel. Throughout this period composition assumed steadily more importance as a natural adjunct to arranging. Compositions first heard in those wartime shows, including Caprice for Strings and Runaway Rocking Horse, would eventually become standard light music successes, Inevitably, London called and White became very busy with commissions for BBC Television and finding a ready outlet in the flourishing market for ‘mood music’. A conscious decision to concentrate on composition rather than arranging bore fruit in a series of delightful light orchestral pieces. The best-known, which countless numbers of parents and grand-parents will recall with affection, is the tune used as signature tune during the 1950s of BBC Radio’s Saturday morning programme Children’s Favourites, though few will know the title of the piece: Puffin’ Billy. This was loved by millions in the USA where it was signature tune for a children’s programme Captain Kangaroo. The inspiration for this piece came to Edward White on a holiday in the Isle of Wight, and seeing some antiquated steam engines, one of which was named Puffin’ Billy. So we have here not the mighty presence of the Coronation Scot, but the squat, workaday stopping train that chugged along out-of-the-way branch lines, commonly dubbed Puffin’ Billy wherever they operated.

17) Starlight Roof Waltz - George Melaehrino (1909- 1965)
George Melachrino was an extremely versatile musician whose influence on the British Light Music scene should not be underestimated. Ho was born in London and was something of an infant prodigy, playing a miniature violin when only four years old. He studied at the Trinity College of Music, London. With his all round prowess Melachrino was much in demand in the thirties playing violin, viola, saxophone and clarinet and as an accomplished vocalist. He worked with leading dance-bands, including Ambrose, Jack Jackson, Jay Wilbur and Carroll Gibbons, then directing his own dance orchestra at London’s Café do Paris. Melachrino joined the army early in World War II. His musical and organising abilities were soon recognised. He toured as one of the Stars in Battledress and later formed and conducted the Orchestra in Khaki drawn from the many professional musicians now serving in the army. This led to the formation in 1944 of the fifty-piece British Band of the AEF (Allied Expeditionary Forces). This became a great favourite with the public as well as the allied forces, together with the American and Canadian Bands of the AEF under Glenn Miller and Robert Farnon. After the war Melachrino took in effect the same orchestra into civilian life where it became famous world-wide, with numerous broadcasts and recordings. The orchestra played a leading role in popularising the new wave of light orchestral winners such as Festival (Richard Addinsell) and Legend (Robert Docker). The Melachrino Organisation, handling many bands and orchestras grew to be one of the largest in the country. Melachrino also helped found a publishing company, Arcadia, promoting not just his own compositions but light orchestral works of his younger contemporaries, including the first publications of a certain Ernest Tomlinson. The distinctive sound of the Melachrino strings, which became his hallmark, was an enhancement, in orchestral terms, of the close harmony scoring of the dance orchestra, In carrying the same principles into the classical orchestra Melachrino broke away from traditional light orchestral scoring, using the various tone-colours in groups rather than diffusing them across the spectrum, with the background rhythm on a separate plane of sound, as in a dance orchestra. As a composer, besides writing attractive light orchestral pieces such as Winter Sunshine and Woodland Revel he wrote the music for at least twelve feature films, including No Orchids for Miss Blandish. He was also active in the theatre and in 1947 wrote the music for the London Hippodrome’s successful revue Starlight Roof. Here we include the exuberant waltz from that show, a waltz which broke new ground, with its jazz-derived syncopations propelled by a string section moving as a team in big-band style.

18) Beachcomber - CIlve Richardson (born 1909)
Clive Richardson’s compositions have become so familiar we need to be reminded just what a wealth of musical activity has characterised his long career, in which he excelled also as pianist, in both solo and accompanying roles, arranger and musical director. He was born in Paris of British parents and from an early age his upbringing was in England. For a while he appeared to be destined for the medical profession but it was soon evident that his career would be in music. At the Royal Academy of Music he was not content with studying just piano, orchestration and conducting, on which his future was to be based, but organ, violin, clarinet, trumpet, trombone and timpani. His entry into the music profession came by way of arranging popular songs and dance music for Waltord Hyden’s Café Colette Orchestra, which made numerous broadcasts. He toured as a member of Harold Ramsey’s Rhythm Symphony Orchestra. He was also musical director for several André CharIot revues, including Please (Savoy; 1933) starring Beatrice Lillie and Lupino Lane, the composer being Vivian Ellis, and Herbert Farjeon’s Spread ft Abroad (Saville; 1936) with Hermione Gingold and Nelson Keys. During the 1930s he toured extensively with the singer Hildegard as accompanist and musical director, the highlight being a stay at New York’s prestigious Rainbow Room. A book could be written about the backroom boys’, arrangers and composers who made crucial contributions to British film music without their receiving acknowledgement, other than (presumably) to their bank balance. One such was Clive Richardson, who in 1936 joined the Gaumont British Film Company as arranger, and assistant musical director to Louis Levy. Working with Charles Williams, Richardson wrote most of the music for Will Hay’s Gainsborough pictures, including the hilarious ON Mr. Porter and scored several other films. The music credits on such films were regularly given the person under whose aegis the music was commissioned and performed rather than those who actually wrote it. When war broke out in 1939 Richardson, having been in the Territorial Army since 1928, was called immediately into the Royal Artillery Regiment in which he served until hostilities ended. Musical activities continued as and when duties permitted. Clive Richardson became a household name in 1944 for the many arrangements he made for the popular radio show ITMA. Orchestral Transcriptions based on folk songs, nursery rhymes, traditional tunes or music-hall songs played by the BBC Variety Orchestra under Charles Shadwell, were a feature of every ITMA show and Richardson was in his element. Other contributors included Arthur Sandford and Gordon Jacob. As a composer he first made his mark before the public with London Fantasia for piano and orchestra. Inspired by his time on an anti-aircraft battery during bombing raids, the Fantasia paints a realistic picture of a day in wartime. Too realistic for some, it nevertheless received many performances and a Mantovani recording. Shortly after the war ended Richardson teamed up with a long-standing friend and colleague arranger and composer Tony Lowry in a two-piano duo Four Hands/n Harmony. Their inventive arrangements and their ability to think as one made them enormously popular, even topping variety bills, and they made over five hundred broadcasts. Richardson’s gift for melody allied to all the right arranging and dramatic skills found many outlets for his light orchestral compositions in the numerous background libraries which flourished increasingly after the war. From this output emerged several evergreens like Melody on the Move, Running off the Rails and the contrasting item that ends this CD. Wandering idly along the sea-coast, inspecting the miscellaneous debris brought in by the tides, is the Beachcomber, who has retired from society, content with his uncomplicated lot. This spirit is admirably captured by Clive Richardson providing us with a nicely relaxing way to conclude this compilation of timeless favourites.


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